Monday, September 08, 2008


"What you role model to your young ones will come back to you and to others."

All of us want kind, loving children that share right? Many parents like myself have been in many situations with their children knowing that this is not an easy task and have been caught in that battle between what to share and not as well as the appropriate time a new toy should be on the sharing list for the next play date.

When parents get involved in toy squabbles, the primary goal should not be to teach your child a lesson on sharing. Rather, the goal is to intervene in a manner that does no harm (doesn't create bad feelings between the kids.) Children are highly sensitive to silent messages. If a parent asks an older sibling to hand over the toy he's playing with to his younger brother, the older child hears, "Mom likes the baby better than me." If one child whines to his mother and she gets involved on his behalf, the other child is bound to feel hurt and resentful toward the sibling. Take a commonsense approach and intervene in a manner that does no harm. If kids are fighting over a toy and they can't find a solution, hold both children responsible for the conflict and encourage them to work it out between themselves.

The trick is to give the kids the tools they need to resolve these conflicts, and then stay out of things as much as possible. One tool that works well is to say, "Okay, both of you want to play with the same toy, and that is not possible. How can we solve this? Then stand back and let them work it out. If the fighting continues, then a good question to ask is, "Do you like it when he shares with you?" Most likely the answer will be yes and then let your child tell you how they will work it out.

If your children are toddlers just remember you may have to intervene because the toy tends to be yanked from child to child or one runs with the toy after taking it, so get the children together and help them work it out without a lot of talking just guiding. In some cases with the older children if they are unwilling to share and you have given them opportunity to handle it with a watchful eye over the situation, it is o.k. then to have a brief gentle conversation with your little one and say, "If you are unwilling to share, you are letting me know that you are choosing to have the toy taken away." At that point let your child choose the right thing to do or not do. If he shares, praise him and if not keep your work and take the toy gently reminding your child is was their choice to do so.

When children are fighting over toys, resist the urge to jump right in and resolve things because what you are role modeling to your child is that they will learn to depend on you to solve their problems. When hosting play dates you can ask your children to put certain toys on the play list for the day just remember which ones they choose so each play date you can rotate toys so they are eventually sharing all of them. Also when your child gets a new toy, it is a golden rule in my house that the child does not need to share the toy for a couple days since it is new and then the toy is introduced to siblings and playmates. Another way to limit the fighting with sharing is to use distraction. You can turn your child's mood around by getting him involved in something different. Not every toy conflict needs to become a platform for teaching your child about sharing. This works really well with toddlers.

The best tool for teaching your child how to share is by role modeling it yourself. Use every opportunity to share and point it out to your child. When your child eats, "Can you share a bite with mommy?" and by playing with your child and doing the same thing with the toys.
If you are really having a tough time with sharing it is o.k. to give consequences while you play with your child too and then don't share. You are role modeling and in return when they go to play with friends it reciprocates back to others.

Your children love praise and attention from you. Praise is the best reward! Acknowledge their good sharing every chance you get and acknowledge their generosity. If you see that your child is giving you something, thank him for being so kind and turn it into a teaching tool for sharing. I bet Johnny would love it if you were sharing with him today. It is embarrassing when kids are inconsiderate and greedy but remember that you have to give up embarrassment when parenting because all kids do these behaviors at one time or another.

Have confidence in your child's basic goodwill and handle all behaviors with gentleness and kindness.


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posted by Colleen Baker at 8:01 AM


Blogger Ginger Carlson, author said...

Kids are kids, and it is developmentally appropriate for them (especially toddlers) to NOT want to share, so forcing them do so undermines their humaness, I believe. I don't believe that a toddler can be "inconsiderate or greedy" and that with modeling and patience and an honoring of them as people they will eventually give of themselves and their things. Because sharing just feels good. Noone ever makes me share anything of mine, and still I am rather generous. And I have never made my own child share anything and still he is rather generous as well.

10:57 AM  
Blogger Rowena said...

thanks for "sharing" this. thanks also for adding the part about toddlers. toddlers often require an entirely different tack.

Something I have also done with my toddlers when they both want to play with the same toy... say my 3yo has something the 18mo wants too. I tell the 3 yo to find the baby another good car/doll/toy to play with and then he can have his disputed item. Sometimes he ends up playing more with the toy he went to get for his sister.

I agree that we should be giving our kids the tools to deal with life, not solving all their problems for them, so this is good advice. Thanks again

11:20 AM  
Blogger Veronica TM said...

what a wonderful post! full of great advice. thank you, colleen!

5:18 PM  

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